“If EEC is the whole egg, the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) is the egg yolk”

Dr. Damri Sukhotanang
Chairman of MTEC Executive Board
National Metal and Materials Technology Center

MTEC successfully delivered outputs which meet the needs of the users. This is due to the fact that expertise and resources were directed towards the focused areas according to MTEC Technology Roadmap 2017-2021. Besides, MTEC is tasked by the government to be one of the founding signatories of the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) with alliances. The mission is to sharpen the country’s competitive edge and to improve the quality of lives of its citizens through science, technology and innovation. The question is how could MTEC utilizes its potential to create positive impacts to achieve maximum benefits to the country?

Dr. Damri Sukhotanang, Chairman of MTEC Executive Board, who has long been working closely with MTEC expresses his view and offer valuable suggestions to organizational operations.

MTEC should define its role and set its strategic direction
Dr. Sukhotanang advised that the core mission of MTEC is defined by organization objective. MTEC must adhere to the core mission of being a national research center for materials technology. Roles and plans of the organization should be discussed by all employees. The research works set to be delivered to the society must be determined. These works must generate higher impacts. Even though the research works are delivered in form of papers, prototypes and patents, there must be a way to turn the works into real-world applications. This is a difficult task.

“Analytical testing services provided by MTEC could also be the channel to capture industrial needs.
These needs form the basis for priority research areas. The government would like to see research undertaken move toward high-quality, high-impact one. To achieve sustainable business practices, MTEC needs to define its mission to align with the policy and strategic direction of research and innovation of the country.” Dr. Sukhotanang added.

“Another and equally important mission is that MTEC must be able to build knowledge and develop understanding on materials technology to R&D personnel within Thailand to strengthen their capability. However, ‘materials’ covers a broad range of disciplines and applications. MTEC has to prioritize research areas and focus on them.”

“The strength of MTEC is that a lot of researchers were awarded scholarships to study abroad. They have accumulated knowledge and established both domestic and international networks. I would like to see MTEC fulfill its mission and systematically deliver the works which could enhance an institution’s visibility and public profile. The positive feedback from beneficiaries will affect the employees’ sense of pride.”

Policy and strategic direction of research and innovation of Thailand

1) Conducting demand-based research and innovation to solve the problems of the country, society and industrial sector.
2) Conducting large-scale research projects aiming for synthesis and holistic integration
3) Building expertise in particularly important areas
4) Focusing on developing and utilizing appropriate technologies
5) Establishing systematic research and innovation networks

Source: Meeting minutes on research and innovation strategy (draft) and driving Thailand 4.0 policy, April 25, 2017, National Research and Innovation Policy Council (NRIC)

NSTDA is tasked by the government to be one of the founding signatories of the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) with alliances. What is your opinion on this?
Dr. Sukhotanang stated that “the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) involves the preparation of infrastructure, logistics system, and new cities to motivate potential investors to invest in new industries which include automation and robotics, aviation, environmental friendly petrochemicals and chemicals, food innovation, and digital technology in a hope that the investment in these new industries would help alleviate the Thai industry as a whole. This could help Thailand to escape the middle income trap.”

“If EEC is the whole egg, the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) is the egg yolk which attracts the potential investors. The role of EECi is to bridge and build the innovation ecosystem. NSTDA has to identify the needs for laboratories to be established, the knowledge and experts whose consultancy are needed. NSTDA should also provide a database of R&D workforce who could serve
the industry”, Dr. Sukhotanang suggested. These contribution could support the growth of the new industries.

How could the Thai industries adjust to Industry 4.0? Which industry is ready for Industry 4.0 first?
Dr. Sukhotanang expressed his view that “To be ready for Industry 4.0, the industry will have to think about the cost effectiveness, volume of outputs, competitors and the type of products. If the industry is more niche-oriented, it is not necessary to develop into a full-fledged Industry 4.0. I think there is a need for industry with large volume of industrial output with large market share to enter Thailand 4.0 industry due to global competition. The trend of industrial robots will dominate the global industry. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automated manufacturing system will be introduced. The industries
which fail to adjust to Thailand 4.0 may not survive.”

What should Thailand do about National Quality Infrastructure (NQI)?
Dr. Sukhotanang explained that national quality infrastructure consists of the following aspects :

1. Standardization: Determining the rules and regulations for each area to the relevant organizations:
– Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) publishes standards which meet the requirements and international guidelines, and issues product certification. TISI ensures that measuring instrument and standard certification are accredited, which include promoting and developing the country’s standardization system.
– Food and Drug Administration (FDA), develops and sets rules and regulations for the standard on quality control, and food safety to be in line with international standards.
– National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) publishes standards for
agricultural systems, commodities and food items and food safety, including promotion of standard compliance for farms and food establishment.

2. Testing: Ensuring that standards published are followed. Testing bodies in Thailand are as follows:
– Thailand Automotive Institute (TAI) provides instrument and testing service for the products in accordance
with industrial standards.
– Electrical and Electronic Products Testing Center (PTEC) provides testing services of electrical and electronic products for domestic sale, import and export against national and international standards. PTEC also provides calibration services for the electrical and electronics industry.
– Department of Science Service (DSS) offers laboratory and certification service for the products compliance with international standards.
– Department of Medical Sciences (DMSC) provides laboratory services in medical sciences and public health.

3. Metrology: Offering scientific activities related to standardization and calibration work. Metrology body in Thailand includes:
– National Institute of Metrology (Thailand) (NIMT) develops national measurement standard which is internationally recognized and disseminate the measuring accuracy within the country.

4. Quality Management: Covering laboratory accreditation and system & product certification. Quality
management bodies include Thai Industrial Standards
Institute (TISI), Department of Science Service (DSS), Department of Medical Sciences (DMSC) and National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standard (ACFS).

Even though, Thailand has adequate infrastructure, collaboration is unsatisfactory. Organizations under the Ministry of Science and Technology should work together under the 3M principles 1) Mutual Interest 2) Mutual Benefits and 3) Mutual Respect.

“A noted example of the cooperation between MOST organizations is a one-stop testing and calibration services. MOST One Stop Service is collaboratively operated by Department of Science Service, Office of Atoms for Peace, National Institute of Metrology (Thailand), and National Science and Technology Development Agency. They have similar goals and mutual interests. Cooperation provides chances for experience and knowledge sharing. Clients can search information needed through onestop.most.go.th
which is faster and leads to their satisfaction in MOST service”, said by Dr. Sukhotanang.

Work Philosophy “TOP FORM”

T= Trust
O= Openness
P= Positive thinking
F= Forgiveness & Friendship
O= Occasional adjustment
R= Recognition
M= Motive mind set

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